Euphemism, Spin, And The Crisis In Organizational Life / Edition 1

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In this book about deception and self-deception in and beyond the workplace, Stein portrays a psychological, ethical, cultural, and spiritual crisis that cannot be reduced to a business crisis. He shows how the language of economics shrouds loss, dread, rage, despair, and brutality in the guise of rational business necessity. For example, the act of ridding a workplace of thousands of people has become magically, euphemistically transformed into an impersonal, bottom line based exercise in downsizing and outsourcing. As Stein explores the role of euphemism in the official doctrines and public claims of business, he also portrays how people experience the trauma of repeated mass layoffs, and the constant turmoil over shifting workroles and uncertain job security. Stein shows how the inner experience of downsizing, reengineering, and corporate medicine becomes part of a person's very essence and structure, not some unfortunate epiphenomenon.

Three extensive case studies—one of downsizing (and related social engineering concepts), one of managed care, and another of the U.S. prairie's adaptation to life afterthe Oklahoma City bombing—provide the evidence for his interpretation. Stein supplements these with telling analyses of the concept of spin, the popularity of Scott Adams' Dilbert cartoons, George Orwell's trenchant use of euphemism in his novels, and the web of words on which the Nazis' extermination program was spun. He shows how our priorities have created long-term massive social casualty for the sake of short-term gain. Further, he shows how a widespread cultural ethos of scarcity and callousness transcends the boundaries of workplace and business. He calls for an ethical awakening from our self-deceptions and the social harm we have done in the name of good business, and for direct, honest language that expresses our feelings and intentions.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

[T]rainers can use it to consider the ways we can positively contribute to our organizations….Just in time for you to prepare for the Millennium.


Training Trends

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781567201246
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/30/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Lexile: 1340L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

HOWARD F. STEIN is Professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Seth Allcorn
A Survey of the Work of Euphemism
Death Imagery, Euphemism, and the Experience of Organizational Downsizing
The Language of Euphemism and the World of Managed Care: Some Thoughts on Doctors, Patients, Organizations, Ethics, and Culture
Trauma and its Euphemisms
Conclusions: Can We Transcend Euphemisms in Organizations, and Beyond?
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